wrestling / Columns

If I Could Be Serious For A Moment 03.24.09: CommentFest (Volume 2)

March 24, 2009 | Posted by Chris Lansdell

Greetings, humanity! Welcome back to If I Could Be Serious For A Moment, where we’re about to drop a full-fledged CommentFest on you. That’s right, a month’s worth of article comments answered to show you all I do care. Why delay? Let’s jump in!



massdestraction starts us off

Terrific article Chris. As an avid fan of Chikara, PWG, Dragon Gate, AAA, ROH, HUSTLE, WWE and all other things that take place in a squared (or 6 sided circle.)I get really tired of guys bashing ROH or WWE or TNA or puro or whatever all these negative, close-minded individuals decide to trash each week. I enjoy wrestling in all it’s forms and am glad you wrote this article. It’s too bad there aren’t more wrestling fans who are actually open to broadening their horizons when it comes to wrestling in all its forms. Now cue all the guys saying “why should we care about some indy fed that only draws 50 people?” or “who cares what happens overseas? Triple H rulez!” Well done, sir, well done. Loved the Yinling reference by the way. You can’t say that shit wasn’t sports entertainment at its finest.

Thanks. This is exactly why I wrote the column, to show people that the wrestling available on their TV is not the only wrestling out there. If you’re a fan of WWE and TNA then that’s one thing, but you’re not really a wrestling fan unless you’ve at least TRIED something else. I can indeed say Ying-Ling wasn’t sports entertainment at its finest because I thought it was ridiculous. Funny, but ridiculous.

411 staffer Todd Vote with a correction:

Eric Young has not been released, to my knowledge. He was in the fired match with Petey, but I think since Petey was pinned he is the only one to leave.

This turned out to be true, but you would never have known it from the rules. When the Rock and Rave lost their match, both members were released. The initial news reports also indicated that Young had been released.

From JTX:

“there’s a woman in dominatrix gear being impregnated by Muta’s mist and giving birth to Akebono.”

Did this really happen? Tell me how I can see this!

There was a link posted later in the comments section, but I’ll just leave this here…

Also, I consider myself a big fan of horror movies but I don’t like “torture porn” and won’t watch anything like Saw or Hostel again because they don’t appeal to me. Guess I’m not really a horror fan then.

Your argument is intriguing but has many holes.

You misunderstand. Trying it and not liking it is not the same as dismissing it out of hand as inferior or bad. You know you don’t like Saw-style movies because you attempted to broaden your horizons in that direction. You don’t have to like everything about a genre to be a fan thereof.

Also, NOTHING that happens in the Indies is nearly as important as anything that happens on TV. I was at a local indy last month where a local school teacher won a title in front of about 100 people, many of which were his students (young children). It wasn’t important to anyone but those kids. Maybe that’s all that matters in this case but Tyson Kidd beating some jobber on ECW means infinitely more.

Important to whom? It’s a matter of perspective. To people who follow that promotion, a title change is more important than a win over a jobber. To the new champion’s career, the title win is more important than a win over a jobber is to Tyson Kidd’s career. Sure Kidd’s win might matter to more people, but does that really make it more important? It depends on what kind of fan you are.

From Piledriver:

I’m a fan of classic wrestling, I am a casual observer of the current product. I haven’t tuned into a single show WWE/TNA and not tuned out without a bad taste in my mouth in many years. If I wanted a soap opera I would watch a soap opera. I like some of the stuff I see on youtube, but a lot of the Indy/RoH stuff just seems like spotfests.

Just wanted to say that although I have a collection of DVD’s and check wrestling websites regularly, I am happy that I am being honest when I tell people that I am not a wrestling fan.

Thank you for illustrating my point perfectly. Although a lot of what I see on TV today annoys and mystifies me, I just can’t stop watching because I don’t want to miss the odd gem that still pops up. There’s also a small part of me that hopes that one day, TNA or WWE will “get it” and realize that pandering to the masses doesn’t mean you have to ignore the diehards.

Iron Knee provides the opposing argument to that of JTX:

You need to define important. Cena or Jarrett winning the title yet again is not groundbreaking or historically significant. Punk or Joe winning their first title marked the ascension of new talent that has the potential to change wrestling for the better.

This is the crux of the matter. No one person can ever tell you what the most significant event of the week was, because the definition of “important” changes from person to person. In the 4-year history of Wrestler of the Week, there have been 4 (I believe) unanimous choices: Rey Misterio (winning the Rumble), Ric Flair, CM Punk (winning the title) and a fourth which escapes me right now. Even Jeff Hardy’s first title win didn’t get him a unanimous #1.

From random guest:

the problem is that wrestling is a business not a sport as you alluded to and many other fans think. the success of the business is not based on how good your matches are or what moves you know, it is how much money you make. watch the wwe legends roundtable shows and they always ask who the best wrestler ever is. the majority of the time the group opinion is that hogan is the best. why? because he made a bunch of money. the wwe is the best promotion. why? because it has made the most money and has been successful for the longest. for myself i would rather watch the best television product there is. i would rather watch wwe because i am guaranteed to be seeing the most successful promotion there is. i have watched japan and roh and tna and everything else. it just is not that good.

I was with you right up until your last sentence. WWE is the top promotion in the world right now because it makes the most money. Hogan drew more money than anyone, although Austin got close and Cena isn’t far behind. Success in the business world is only measured by the money you make, and there is no doubt that WWE leads that pack. You could argue that success in the WRESTLING world is not necessarily the same, but if you don’t judge that by the money you make then you have to judge it by quality of product, which is subjective. Which brings me to your last sentence: to say that none of those promotions is any good is your opinion, and of course I would not call it wrong. However there are many people who do not share this opinion and that is the reason for the disputes that pop up. As soon as you switch from factual statements to opinions, you open the door to disagreement and it’s an argument that neither side is likely to win.

John has an excellent statement:

I think your definition of a “fan” is far too specific. The best definition of a fan that I have ever read is “fans not only follow a program … but are invested in its continuance.” To say someone is not a “true wrestling fan” because they don’t watch the many styles and brands of wrestling is valid point. However, it’s akin to saying someone isn’t a wrestling fan if they don’t like watching Dino Bravo matches from the 80s as much as they like watching Steve Austin matches from the 90s. Not all wrestling is created equal, and not all wrestling is going to have a universal appeal to all fans. While it’s true that a person could be more of a WWE fan, or a John Cena fan than a “wrestling” fan this does not disqualify that person’s wrestling fandom. They are not mutually exclusive, in fact the easily overlap, as that person is easily more of a wrestling fan than a person who doesn’t like wrestling. Likewise, just because there are people who have a favorite football team that they watch religiously, but don’t care about the other games doesn’t mean they are not football fans. Their investment in their favorite team necessitates that they are football fans, because without football their team would not exist. Furthermore, to say a little kid who loves watching wrestling isn’t a fan because he doesn’t know Pat Patterson was the first I-C Champion seems like a pretty big stretch to me. Similarly, a person who does not have the means to access (money, knowledge, geography) different types of wrestling gets short changed in your definition. I believe, following the definition laid out earlier, that a wrestling fan is a person who is invested in wrestling (whatever form it takes) to the point that their life would be significantly different, or they would be profoundly sad if wrestling were to cease to exist. I think you are trying to define a zenith of wrestling fandom (and there are certainly different degrees) and that’s fine, but one’s fandom cannot be measured in how much stuff they buy, the styles of wrestling they watch, or even the amount of wrestling they watch (this website alone allows a person to be fan without watching a single minute of wrestling). The thing that defines fans are their investment in the continuation of the wrestling narrative.

Very well put. Note that I’m not saying you have to LIKE all eras and styles of wrestling, but that you should at least have looked at them or be open to so doing. Someone who watches wrestling only for John Cena is not a fan of the wrestling, they are a fan of John Cena. Sure they may have a desire for wrestling to stay on the air so they can continue to see their favourite, but that’s not because it’s wrestling. If he were the host of Deal or No Deal they would watch that, and wrestling be damned.

Not having the knowledge is not the same as not caring enough to seek it out. My 8-year-old son has no idea who Pat Patterson is, but he will watch any wrestling I put on (although when he’s around it’s mostly CHIKARA and WWE because the rest is not age-appropriate) and shows a genuine interest in finding out who is who and why they are fighting, and so on. As he grows up, if he maintains his interest I imagine he will seek out the information himself. Obviously not everyone has access to the same level of information, but the desire to seek it out is there. Your point about not having to actually WATCH the wrestling is somewhat valid, but with YouTube and the like out there, it’s not hard to find most matches online.

The distinction is a fine one but I believe it’s important. Not to belittle people who just watch WWE, but the ones who bash other promotions without ever having seen them annoy me.

Curtis makes me wonder if maybe my stance wasn’t clear:

There are many genres of wrestling just like movies and music. By your logic I am not a music fan or a metal fan because I only listen to Power, Thrash, Viking, Folk and Speed metal and dislike things like black, grindcore, hardcore and nu metal.

Wrestling is the same, I like my certain wrestlers, promotions and styles and dislike others. I watch TNA, CHIKARA, PWG and ISW and very little of anything else. I am still a wrestling fan and I am certainly not one of those idiots that bash everything. I respect what they do and watch what I like.

Being a fan is not about liking every aspect about something, I will admit that even my favorite band has a few bad songs, doesn’t mean I am not a fan of theirs overall though.

Again, it’s not about liking every aspect of something. It’s about knowing you like it or don’t like it based on your experience of it. To use your music analogy, I hate country music. Despise it. However, there are a few songs I can tolerate and some I even enjoy. If anything, being able to recognize that your favourite band/wrestler/promotion has a few bad songs/ poor matches/weaknesses makes you MORE of a fan and not less of one.

Nick M. has picked up on something I do every week:

Not only did I love the column, I loved the reference to the Gin Blossoms song “Follow You Down”. Ace stuff, sir.

There’s almost always at least one song reference and/or TV show reference in my columns. Some are more obscure than others, but they’re there. Call ‘em if you see ‘em!

Iain continues the fine tradition of not getting my point and posting to illustrate the type of person about whom I am talking:

Defining fandom is pointless. Other than to create another thing for people to feel superior over. “You’re not a REAL fan.” It feels like you’re criticizing the trolls on your comments section for bashing others, but you’ve just created another class to bash over.

I’m a fan because I choose to be. No one gets to define that, except me.

You’re a fan…of what? I’m sure you are a fan of several things, otherwise you wouldn’t be coming to 411mania. Being a fan of WWE and TNA doesn’t mean you’re not a real fan, it means you’re not a wrestling fan. You might be a televised wrestling fan, but that’s as far as I’ll go. Of course after last Saturday, ROH is also televised. I’m not trying to feel superior; if anything the amount of time I spend on wrestling makes me sad that I have so little in the way of a life.

I suppose I should feel privileged that the legendary K-Money read my column:

It’s not that other wrestling doesn’t exist, because it does. I just don’t find it very important or relevant.

WWE is a global phenomenon, the #1 promotion in the world. If, say, John Cena were to win the title on Raw next week or something, it would be infinitely more important than if some no name virtual nobody in ROH or a Japanese promotion had won some tournament or title. Why is it that way? Because it just is.

I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to address you directly Mr Money, but I’m glad you read and commented on my article. Your point that Cena’s next title win is more important than, say, Tyler Black’s first has been addressed above. You don’t find it important or relevant, and the emphasis is on the key word. You are in the majority, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and others are wrong. There is at least one Japanese promotion (possibly two) that is bigger than TNA, with a bigger audience both live and on TV. By your logic, doesn’t that make them more important than TNA? RoH is now on TV in the States (it’s been on Canadian and British TV for a while) and has national PPVs. They are coming up fast in TNA’s mirror, and TNA is behind WWE and at least one Japanese promotion. We’re at a point when a major title win for the right person could vault their company ahead of another in the standings, and to me that makes everything that happens in any of those feds a big deal.

Iain had more to say:

Guest7190: You watch WWE because it’s the most successful? You must hate elections; you never know who’s going to win until it’s over, so how do you know who to vote for?

Do you LIKE it? That’s the first question. And, really, the only one. I don’t see anything about what you said in watching because you’re LIKING it.

So you go from one extreme to the other. This is EXACTLY what I’m trying to say. If you watch the wrestling you like, you’re a fan. Be careful though, because you can’t possibly know if you’ll like it unless you look into it.

RDR wants to play semantics. Dangerous game to play with a former law student turned writer…

Chris, good article when thinking the root of the word fan comes from the word fanatic or fanaticism. There is more than one school of thought there though; the origin of the word fan has also been linked to the word fancy, which changes its whole meaning. As I’m sure you know, to fancy something simply means to take a liking to it while fanaticism is a case of addiction; it’s like the difference between a drunk and a wine connoisseur.

Excellent point. However, a wine connoisseur has tried them all and knows what he likes. He might prefer a Chateau-Neuf-Du-Pape over a Pinot Grigio, but he knows what each tastes like.

B.W.G gets it. Kind of.

Excellent read overall…you took the WOTW companion and put it in paragraph form, more or less, but that was probably necessary, considering how many WOTW regulars STILL haven’t read the damn thing.

Like John mentioned, he’s not trying to bash everyone who says they’re fans so much as to describe the IDEAL Fan (from a completely objectivist standpoint, which is impossible) to people, otherwise he wouldn’t be labeling himself as a non-fan…it’s like explaining rationalism (the philosophical concept) to a public forum of people who only know the “common” meaning of the word. Telling people how to reach that objective ideal (if one is that much of a mark) is the general idea, as anyone who just loves WWE and is fine with just that has already reached their personal, subjective ideal of a wrestling fan. And really, who can bash who for being that?

I’m actually not trying to bash anyone. What you get out of wrestling is up to you. Personally I watch it because I enjoy almost any form of it. If Tommy who used to work on the docks only watches WWE because he can’t stand wrestling without stories then good for him. He’s a WWE fan and there’s nothing wrong with that. However if Tommy starts attacking Jimmy because Jimmy likes TNA better, and Tommy starts calling himself a wrestling fan…well then there’s your problem.

The same random guest from before had this to say:

I’ve been watching for over 20 years as well and i found this to be true: its not the newest fans, but the “middle child” fans who are the worst. they all came in around the attitude era and got a hard on for ecw and “stiff style” and hardcore matches. once wee phased those things out, they all became “too smart for the wwe”. they newest fans are your cenas fans who will have their parents buy the stuff. the “middle child” fans will resent them and find something to make themselves feel smart, whether it be roh, tna or jap crap.
and yes i do like wwe. it is the most entertaining promotion from their worst angles to their best. it is heads above everything else in the wrestling community. old school fans like me will appreciate the good and laugh at the bad. we are no longer rebelling and no longer feel the need to show of our fandom.

You do make an excellent point about the Johnny-come-lately fans who think they know everything because they watched ECW. That said, you can’t tar them all with the same brush. You also can’t universally say that WWE is more entertaining, because everyone is entertained in a different way. Many people watch other promotions not to feel smart, but because they want more wrestling, or they want something from wrestling that WWE doesn’t always provide.

old school fan disagrees with my conclusions:

Rubbish. Good article,but your logic is flawed. Its like saying you dont like t.v. if you dont watch everything. Its akin to saying that the most hardcore fanboy isnt really a comic book fan if they dont read X-men[ i myself havent picked up an issue since the early 90’s]
I have seen wrestling go through several high spots and some crushing lows, I have seen the rise and fall of W.C.W., Montreal, and if you want to go further back i watched Tommy Rich beat Harley Race for the N.W.A. world title. I have loved Wrestling for 30 years, without even once seeing a RoH p.p.v.. My point is this, I have seen as much crap as i have seen compelling story and i dont need to watch Itchy Scratchy take on the Oyabun in a ring full of Unicorn tears to appreciate the japanese style. Dont need to i have seen Muta and Sting tear down the house. I grew up watching The great fuckin Kabuki..
I know that the great E.C.W. brought out the wrestling aristocrat.[ Did you see Shane douglas Terry Funk and Sabu…marvelous….simply marvelous] a 60 minute spot match. Now these same workrate nazis watch RoH. I consider myself a true fan and a student of wrestling and i dont need to have someone go all Dave Meltzer on me and question my dedication. But as i said it was a thought provoking article and i will read more…..OLD SCHOOL IS COOL

Old school is indeed cool, no doubt. You’re definitely an educated fan but your ignorant attitude to Indy feds and Japanese style shows that you’ve never given it a chance (which you freely admit). That means YOU ARE NOT A WRESTLING FAN. That doesn’t mean you’re not a dedicated fan of WWE, old school WCW, NWA or anything else. It means you’re not a wrestling fan, because you refuse to accept that other forms of wrestling can be entertaining. Comparing me with Meltzer is so far off base it’s not even funny. Meltzer is a snob, as are way too many other “legendary” net writers. I can appreciate a good match no matter what company puts it on, just as I can appreciate a funny Santino skit or Pat Patterson and Gerry Brisco in an evening gown match.

A different random guest has a doom and gloom view of it all:

There can be no wrestling fans since wrestling died when the nwa became WCW for all intents and purposes.
Without territories there is nothing but athletic soap operas.
Long gone are the days of 2 out of 3 falls with a 60 minute time limit for the World title.
Hell in a Cell and Elimination chambers have no meaning… but there was this thing called War Games that used to bring feuds to bloody ends..
Wrestling has evolved into more glitz than action.
For something resembling a real contest of men’s strength and force one must now watch UFC.
It’s a shame too because in the old days the Von Erichs and Freebirds or The Sheepherders vs. The Fabulous Ones or the Midnight Express vs. The Rock n Roll Express were so good that we really did suspend belief and bought into it.
Everything now is so gimmicked it’s a shame.
Give me Tully vs. Magnum in a steel cage over these Money in the Bank spot fests.

Wrestling was never a contest of strength and force, at least not for almost a hundred years. You do make a good point about wrestling degenerating into a spotfest in many cases, but some of that is due to the evolution of the business. All entertainment evolves, and if you don’t keep up you fail. WCW failed. ECW failed. WWE survived because they went in a different direction. TNA, ROH and others are surviving because they went in the opposite direction, but that way has a lower roof on success.

Another Random Guest helps me out:

New Japan is STILL the second biggest company in the world. Why doesn’t anyone understand this?

Because it’s in Japan. It’s typical American close-mindedness…nothing that happens outside the 50 states actually matters. Some might be generous enough to include Canada, a few more might go so far as to include the UK. This doesn’t apply to all and it’s not meant as in insult, it’s just an observation.

tully picked up on a throwaway remark:

WWE names Tag Teams! Cryme Tyme, Priceless…Eric Young was released!?

For Young, see above. Priceless were not officially named as such, and Cryme Time is the one exception currently active as a team.


A lot of comments about the Rihanna/Chris Brown joke. Look, it’s like this: I laugh at everything. It’s easier to cope with that way. If we really sit back and look at life, there’s actually very little good going on. You have to make your own humour.

Hawkeye has some excellent insight into how TWO could be booked better:

I appreciate that this fantasy promotion is an exercise in giving a role to recently released wrestlers. But there’s one basic problem with the promotion itself. It’s still way too similar to ROH.

Bischoff’s best wrestling business philosophy: “you can either be better or you can be different.” The ladder system is a good idea, but it’s still not enough to differentiate you. As it stands, the promotion would just come across as an ROH clone. The similarity in the rules, the “respect” title and the focus on competition (while all decent ideas themselves, and things that would do well to position yourself as different to WWE or TNA) would just serve to make the promotion seem like a bush-league wannabe company run by guys who like ROH.

You’d need to find something that would set your company apart. You don’t want to draw comparisons to ROH because your company wouldn’t be able to compete with them, doing what they do (at least not while trying to establish yourselves at the same time).

Perhaps trying to be the most well rounded indie? Provide the best balance of good wrestling, good angles, comedy spots and hot lady wrestlers that can be found on the indie level. Since most major indies do serve a significant niche (ROH- pure wrestling, CZW- hardcore, etc etc), presenting a well rounded product may be a worthwhile niche in and of itself. I’m not sure what the best path would be, but I know that you don’t want to come across as ROH-lite.

That being said, your roster (and the divisions within) are good, and the product itself would probably be very entertaining. You would just need to market it as it’s own thing, without comparisons to ROH. Really interesting column.

I enjoyed writing it. I think that a lot of unsigned talent out there has been undervalued by the big players, and the column was meant to illustrate that. Your point about being to similar to ROH is a good one though. The thing is, it’s ROH from 2006 to which I am similar. Whether or not that’s enough to attract the typically sharp-eyed long-memoried smark is a point of contention.

As an aside, I don’t think I’d follow the path to success of a man who couldn’t save his own company. I do agree that you have to do something to make people watch you and not others, ONCE YOU GET INTO DIRECT COMPETITION. The group of fans who make up my target market are not the type who would say “If I watch TWO I have to give something else up”, they’d make room for it because it’s wrestling.

Bman was a bit more enthusiastic.

TWO sounds like an awesome fed, I’d be willing to run it in EWR…just need some time is all. Do you plan on including it as a regular feature, like EWR on 411 back in the day?

I really don’t have the time or resources to make this a regular thing, but if anyone wants to run it on EWR (still waiting on some information to download patches for that…) and send me the results I would gladly include them.

Mark has some doubts about the availability of some of the roster:

Hey, a lot of your wrestlers are under contract to ROH. Erick Stevens , BJ whitmer , Brent Albright , Kenny Omega , Delirious , Roderick Strong and Larry Sweeney are bound to ROH by contracts. Every wrestler that is on ROH PPV is under contract. These guys cannot be part of your new promotion unless Cary Silken approved the bookings.

I looked and I looked and I looked, and I could not find ANY information on wrestlers currently contracted to ROH. I remember when they first got PPV they signed a few big names to contracts, but don’t remember hearing that any of these guys had signed. That said, I doubt Silkin would withhold talent from a startup promotion unless I was running the same weeks as him.

Scotty has a different idea:

Like the ladder concept but agree that it is still to much early ROH.

My promotion would have 3 belts. One for each style of wrestling. A Flyers Title for the cruiser style, A Brawlers Title for hardcore, and a Grappler Title for very strict mat based wrestling.

Interesting concept. It seems like there’s a glaring problem with it but I can’t put my finger on it, so I guess I’m just looking for something to dislike. Minor issue, three singles title in a small promotion might be too much.

Dubhagan corrects me on Eric Young and has some other comments on roster choices.

A few problems with your roster. Eric Young is still with TNA, he was not let go, disqualifying him from inclusion. Also, two of your Second Coming (great name by the way) talent, Rotunda and Hennig, are under WWE developmental contract, also disqualifying them from inclusion.

I also noticed you left out Shawn “Gavin” Spears. He’d be good for North of 49. Infact, North of 49 should be Spears, Williams, Omega, and Dux. Maybe bring in Scott D’Amore as their manager or have Sean Morley as their leader.

I’m surprise you included Teddy Hart but purposely left out Dutt. I would have thought that Hart had the worse reputation.

I didn’t include Spears because I had only seen one match of his. I have a soft spot for Hart because of his name, but Dutt just strikes me as trouble: he was in TNA for ages and never held the X-Division title, and I don’t think anyone would argue that he’s not on the gas. Rotunda and Hennig are a big loss though. Hey, Manu is available!

Big Fat Fag has a very good question:

Where the fuck is XPAC ?????

In line to buy a ticket.

Chifo points out a glaring omission:

2.0….Feel the flow.

Get them in the Tag division

How could I? I am as much a 2.0 fan as I am an Omegaphile, I cannot believe I left them out. Damn.


Miz Mouse has an opinion on the last person to be the Next Big Thing:

IMO.. Mr.Kennedy was the last wwe product to even remotely look like next megastar.. But he is just nowhere good in the ring, injury proned and a drug addict..

Injury prone definitely, bad in the ring possibly, but a drug addict? Sure he was suspended, but that doesn’t make him an addict. I will agree that he is a good example of what happens when you try and rush someone to the top before they’re ready.

Adam makes a good point with a minor gaffe.

I think the next big thing isnt gonna be one man. its gonna be a collection of several individuals that catches peoples eye. like the smackdown four, but even better.

You probably mean Smackdown SIX. While a group of very good wrestlers can keep the current fans happy and possibly bring back a few fans who had left, it’s not going to draw in new fans. It’s hard to market a group like the Smackdown Six who all appeal to different niches, but a lot easier to give Hogan, Austin or Rock the ball and let him run with it.

vintage HBK thinks TNA has it in them.

good read there lansdell…

im liking TNA’s position too, and their potential could be phenomenal

not like “monday night wars” good, but ya never know

TNA has always had the potential, the question around it has been and continues to be “Can they use it?”. With their numbers creeping up and Smackdown’s plummeting, could we see TNA switching to Fridays?

casual_monday_mayhem changed his mind.

Can’t throw away good entertainment on one bad line. Daggoned, if i can watch a McCool promo, i can keep reading Landsmeister. And what do you know, he delivers…

The Orange Goblin is never going to get surpassed, no-one will become a household name purely being a wrestler because the entertainment landscape is so fundamentally different than it was 25 odd years ago. So maybe WWE needs to stop looking for one.

crap… i feel bad now, didn’t mean to cause the pussy to lose employment in these hard economic times, but then again, one more desperate pussy roaming the streets, ready to do anything for very little…

I can buyz teh Kitteh cHeezBurger, maiks kitteh Happy returns?

I had no idea what you were talking about in the last part until today when it dawned on me you were lamenting the non-appearance of JokerCat. Fear not, he will return from time to time.

I agree wholeheartedly that WWE and wrestling in general should stop looking for the Next One. However, “surpassing” Hogan depends on what context. In the ring? Not hard? In money? Cen’as close with years ahead of him. The only way in which Hogan will never be surpassed is in the effect he had on professional wrestling.

Random guest makes a typical smark assertion:

Book samoa joe properly, and you will see the nxt big thing, he is a great bad ass character

Joe is a great badass, but he’s not the guy to lead the industry. For one thing he doesn’t look the part. That might not matter to us, but to the casual or non-fan an overweight guy with no redeeming physical characteristic is not going to make them care about wrestling. As much as the ROHbots want Joe to break records and win titles, not making him the face of TNA is actually a very smart move.

Another random guest has some different suggestions:

I think Randy Orton’s actually the closest to being the next big thing. He’s got the look, the skills, and the right sort of dickish charisma to be a badass face.

Brock Lesnar didn’t get over because he’s as bland as toast. As me and a friend were talking about it one time, he was actually quite boring. Being a whiny bitch doesn’t help matters either.

Brock didn’t turn into a whiny bitch until after he left WWE. Orton’s got a lot of tools, no doubt, but he also IS a tool and ultimately that will hold him back from the pinnacle.

Chris, but not me, wants clarification:

An excellent article Lansdell. However there was one particular point I disagreed with: “casual wrestling fan, it became cool for the “smart” fans to hate him. The same has happened with Kennedy, CM Punk and Samoa Joe. With a section of the crowd booing when they should cheer and cheering when they should boo, it becomes very hard for any star to gain mainstream appeal. “

Didn’t Stone Cold and The Rock get cheered for doing heel-ish things? They worked out fine, so stuff such as Mr. Kennedy getting cheered for being a heel shouldn’t affect his mainstream appeal too much since it didn’t affect Rocky or Austin.

They got cheered for doing heelish things because Vince WANTED them to get cheered. With Cena especially that is not the case. It’s simply something a small group of idiots started to be cool and put themselves over. Unfortunately, it caught on.

W. Axl Rose has a similar theory:

Chris is right. The audience can choose whether the wrestler should be face or heel. The trouble is that some guys, like John Cena, are caught in limbo. Half the arena hates them; half the arena loves them. If the audience could go one way or another, it would be one thing, but to have them split is another thing altogether.

As for who the next superstar is, I’ve only two words: John Morrison

The good thing about Morrison is that he hasn’t been rushed. If he stays clean he’s got a big future, but can you REALLY see him as the face of the company? Good points about Cena though.

God, how sad is it that I feel like I have to say “If he stays clean…” before predicting everyone’s future?

rey sums everything up:

The problem with “the next big thing” is vince is trying to create it. he created hulkamania. that worked out very well. when he tried to do it again with rocky maivia. it failed miserably.

what made rock/austin great is they were chosen by the fans. i think the days of the manufactured star are over.

You know that. I know that. Someone want to tell the bookers? Hulkamania fell into Vince’s lap, he took Verne Gagne’s idea and blew it up to larger-than-life proportions. Stone Cold and The Rock were Russo’s creations and, like you said, got pushed because the fans demanded it. Nowadays the fans don’t get a chance to demand a push…they start asking politely for one and the guy gets pushed to the moon.

Samoa joe and cm punk are the victims of bad booking. while both casual and internet fans got behind kennedy. he became allergic to pushes.

Kennedy hasn’t even been on TV in forever. Maybe when he comes back (AGAIN) he will get one more kick of the can, but I think he’s lost his shot.

the next big thing is happening right now, john cena and randy orton. i’ve been to house shows and ppvs where the crowd popped for randy like he was huge babyface.

Both have problems. Cena’s is well known, and I mentioned Orton’s above. Honestly, unless someone amazing happens along, we’re stuck with what we have now: a lot of talented people who aren’t good enough to be uber-stars.

dave k. trots out another oft-heard cry:

Easy solution to the Cena problem. TURN HIM HEEL. Sure they may lose money in the process, but the shit will work. If fans want to boo him let them and if fans that cheer him have a reason to boo they will. In wrestling you need a strong heel to make strong faces. All of these bland faces they have now have no one to work with. Sure the Orton’s and Edge’s play their role very well but their not mainstream heels with charisma to spare like Rock in his heyday.

I’m not sure I agree with the basic premise, but we’ll let that slide in favour of something else. Right now, fans boo Cena to be contrary-minded. If you turn him heel, they will start cheering him again. They just like to do the opposite of what Vince wants them to do, just like that American Idol website that got people to vote off everyone but that Sanjaya kid.

C. Drama dares to disagree:

I Have to disagree with Lansdell on a few topics:

1.Before Hogan was Hogan there was Bruno Sammartino, there was Andre, there was Verne Gagne. And these leads me to my next point . .

Problem: Bruno, Andre and Verne put together didn’t draw like Hogan did. They might have been the biggest of their day, but they were never considered the Next Big Thing, mainly because before Hogan there had never been a first big thing.

2. Wrestling always has had, has now, and will need the next big thing. You cited the Royals developing a player only for him to go the Yankees as a reason the wwe should not try to find the nbt. However I think a better comparison would be Tiger Woods. Compare golf’s rating when he plays and when he doesnt play, they are not even in the same area code. Sports need that great champion as it provides people someone to cheer for; or an underdog to support.

Wrestling only needs the Next Big Thing if it is looking to expand. Now is not the time for that. With its formerly loyal fanbase starting to splinter, it needs to be secured first. Second, your analogy to golf falls apart because it’s not like Tiger can go an play baseball instead.

3. I do though support the idea that Vince simply cant annoint the nbt as the fans need to chose him. Look at the pop Jeff Hardy gets when he comes out, obviously the fans picked him, and demanded that he be the focus and Vince responded. Vince can put the nbt in a place to succeed, but it does not garruntee the fans will accept him.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Personally I think Vince should let the Next Big Thing
put himself in a position to succeed, but he’s not likely to do that in this environment.


I snipped a lot of the comments because they were suggestions for Jericho’s opponent, and we now know who that is.

JcJames takes issue with my acceptance of unsubstantiated facts:

Man, you did a good job with saying that Vince may have never disliked the film in the first place. But then you went on to say how Vince “said” he would never use someone who appeared in Hogan’s crappy show and I wonder, where did you get this inside information? I’m sorry, but unless someones from the WWE’s office told us, it’s just a rumor that should be taken with a grain of salt.

Some rumours just make more sense than others. You’re right of course, we don’t know if this really happened,
but I think we can all agree that Vince has a reputation for this stuff.

Long-time reader JLAJRC has a theory on Koko that I want to address:

I wonder if one of the reasons they’re inducting Koko B. Ware this year is that he may be the one wrestling Jericho, which would be an even bigger disappointment than Lawler wrestling Jericho.

Actually, I have my own theory about that. I think WWE wants to induct a minority every year, and after Mr T turned them down they were left scrambling.


Devin disagrees rather strongly with a point I made:

Well written…except for the “great but clean physique” part in regards to HHH and Batista. Cena, yes maybe…but Hunter and “Big Dave”? You can’t be fucking serious. HHH has likely avoided more steroid tests than he can count, just because of his position alone, and Batista has about as natural a body as Scott Steiner.

There is very little doubt that HHH has done a lot of steroids in the past, but I’d bet a paycheque he’s clean now. Batista…tough to say. He’s never been suspended, so unless you think he’s dodging tests too I’d say he’s pretty clean. He’s noticeably smaller than in his Evolution days.

Iron Knee is back with more intelligent comments:

Let’s not compare actors and wrestlers, it demeans the work of both. How many wrestlers can act at all and how many actors can perform the sort of spots that even a marginal wrestler must? Thus, each career requires a vastly different set of tools.

Indeed. However, actors play a role and so do wrestlers. I was just drawing a parallel between the roles an actor plays and the one a wrestler plays. You can’t fully compare the two professions, but there are similarities.

As to the blame, it ultimately rests on the head of the individual. Steroid users know the risks they take, but feel the reward outweighs said risk. I don’t judge anyone who take that path in order to succeed in wrestling, because the business has rewarded those who’ve followed it. Also, I’d bet many 411 authors and commenters would take similar risks if placed in the same position. Maybe we all ought to look in the mirror before we call these guys out on being weak or cheaters.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but no illegal substance ever has entered this body, and it never knowingly will. Doing whatever it takes to get ahead is a personal choice, but then when the consequences come to call you have nobody to hide behind.

Ben S has an idea better than a cure:

Very good points made, and I agree wholeheartedly. WWE should definitely have some sort of substance-abuse education/prevention program in FCW and any other developmental territories it may acquire. An ounce of prevention etc. That could have better results than rehab after years of substance abuse problems, when the body has already been compromised. Nice work, keep it up, I always enjoy the column.

This is the way to go in my mind. Along with taking the pressure off the new signings to look like they were chiselled from marble, more needs to be done to teach these kids what they’re likely to face. Hardly anyone goes into the business not knowing about steroids, but it’s the seemingly harmless things like painkillers that they need to be warned about.

yes, but… is offended:

Landsell, love your work.
BUT, how dare you put Owen anywhere on this list? This is obviously about wrestlers with substance abuse problems that in some way caused or was involved in their death.
OWEN HART’s premature death had nothing in common with who you put him in with in this article. The WWE has been wise to shelve the whole incident (Owen’s widow is bound to silence), but I don’t want 14 year old IWC kiddies reading this and getting the wrong idea about Owen compared to your list of other ‘outed’ roiders, painkiller poppers, and drug users.

No, this column was about people dying too soon as a result of wrestling. Owen was included because his death was caused by wrestling, and because some fools blame HHH for his death and Test’s. I thought it was clear from what I wrote but if not, allow to clear that up now. Owen was never associated with drugs of any kind and died as a result of an accident, nothing more.

And while it is a personal choice to use those substances, there is NO DOUBT they help you up the card by improving your “look”.
no champs in 5 years? REALLY? Adam Copeland’s (EDGE) name in Sports Illustrated involving illegal scripts questions that statement. He wasn’t the only WWE-er on that list…
HHH, Batista? at SOME point in their career they were on the juice – if I put a knife to your neck (JOE STYLE!) and made you decide: did they or didn’t they use them at some point? you would say they did.
Listen to rf shoots, steroids are a part of the game. and I guess that means the consequences are too :/

great article choice 🙂

I didn’t really choose it, it chose me. Sounds clichéd but really, what else is the guy who writes serious columns going to write about. And now this week we lost two more, albeit in far less suspicious or wrestling-related circumstances. I forgot all about Edge’s “outing”, probably because he has never LOOKED like he was on anything.

Jay Smith makes an interesting point:

Yeah, the big but clean thing had me laughing out loud! HHH and Batista? Clean? I would be willing to wager that 99% of wrestlers have used steroids and hgh. And I am not judging. I mean, they aren’t competing, and the drugs help them get back from injury faster, so hell, go for it. Cena is a curious case. The dude is ripped, and freakishly strong. I haven’t seen a pic of him from when he was younger, so I wouldn’t say I’m 100% positive, but c’mon, after te last few years, nobody would suprise me if they admitted using ped’s.

Interesting. They’re not competing, so they’re really only hurting themselves. And WWE’s reputation. And the clean people who can’t get jobs or pushes because the users are getting them. There is ALWAYS a competition in life.

RDR, despite a glaring error or 3, makes some good points.

Some blame Vinnie Mac, some blame Test, some blame the wrestling industry…guess what? Everyone’s right…and yet everyone’s wrong.

It’s impossible to blame just one person in this situation just as it’s impossible to blame the young model coming down with anorexia or bulimia. These people we watch every week have pressure put on them that most of us will never know, either conform to the cookiecutter mold their industry sees fit or be put out of a job or just denied any chance of advancement. Back in the 80s it was all about a wrestler having a good gimmick to get over, guys like Goldust and Badnews Brown were legit title contendors. In the 90’s it changed and it was less about the gimmick and more about the look. Now in 2000 and beyond it’s all about the look, most wrestlers with gimmicks are used for midcard fodder or comic relief (by gimmicks I mean characters such as Doink not extensions of a wrestlers personality such as Orton’s Legend Killer persona).

Well if “extensions of the character’s persona don’t count, then bad News shouldn’t count. By the way, Golddust wasn’t around in the 80s, and neither he nor Bad News were ever contenders. However, the need to conform to an ideal (The Master Wrestler Race?) has lessened greatly in the past couple of years, and this is only a good thing. But yes, there is enough blame to go around.

By the promoters limiting their top talent to wrestlers with a certain look they themselves must share in the blame. By the industry wanting to play follow the leader with the big leagues, they are also to blame. And by submitting to the industry’s demand, the wrestlers themselves are to blame (the ones who give in to steroids and painkillers instead of standing up for their health and bodies).

You forgot the fans. Otherwise, you are spot on.

For years Indy leagues haven’t had the same concerns regarding “the Look” as the big leagues, this is one place the WWE and TNA need to take a look and realize they have something left to learn…from “the little guys”.

But there’s a reason they stay the little guys: they don’t cater to a wider audience. To do that, you need people who look dangerous.

rey wants to point something out:

the problem i have with these deaths is the apathy.

is martin’s death less tragic because he didnt main event wrestlemania?

i have seen the same sentiment for other performers who wrent in the wwe or never on top of the card.

Excellent point and so true. He was a human, and as such deserves to be mourned.

Last_Rider and Angry Bear have good suggestions:

I’m going to toss out a theory that probably will meet with scorn. But, maybe WWE should offer some emotional counseling. I’m unsure if they do no not, but I’d bet they don’t. I’m not trying to remove personal responsibility from the equation here, as one is responsible for their actions; however, none of us are aware of the psychological or emotional issues taking place as well.

This would help both in avoiding drugs and dealing with the deaths. It’s easier to act reposnsibly when you fully understand the consequences.

I’ll take it one step further. How about a “rookie symposium” (not sure if that’s the correct term) like the NBA has and warning them of the pitfalls of the business.

Posted By: Angry Bear (Guest) on March 18, 2009 at 07:34 AM

Something similar was mentioned above. The NBA version is only a couple of days, but with WWE it would need to be continuous.

That’s it from me folks. Join me next week for…something. I know what it is, but I can’t really describe it. Until then Stay Cool, Rock Hard.

Lansdellicious – Out.


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